52 GLOBAL FRANCHISE | ISSUE 5.4 INSIGHT Six things franchise execs must do in Q4 to prepare for 2021 By focusing on these six recommendations, you’ll drive franchisee performance, achieve franchisee satisfaction, ensure franchisee compliance and create engagement and alignment s many franchise executives are in the midst of planning for next year’s success, below are six key points to consider in order to improve the visibility of your brand’s results, gain insights into franchisee behavior, and improve processes to drive efficiency into 2021. 1 Proactively reach out to every franchisee before the end of the year You’ll find that the activity of having your executive management team personally check-in on franchisees between now and through the end-of-the-year won’t take much time and will provide you with the greatest ROI of almost any investment or activity that you can undertake. The insights that you’ll receive are critical for the budgeting process, and a simple call will go a long way in showing your level of commitment and conveying how valued your franchisees are. Additionally, this shouldn’t be a time to inform your franchisees about all the great things you’re doing on their behalf, but rather a time for your franchisees to share their hopes and dreams, highs and lows, and ultimately share how they are doing in their personal operations. Though you likely have franchise business consultants (FBCs) that are having these conversations on a frequent basis, the key differentiator is that these calls are coming from the executive management team. We all remember those episodes of Undercover Boss where an executive of the company would go disguised into multiple locations in order to really learn what’s going on in the field. While doing this can be an expensive and unscalable endeavor, by establishing these same touchpoints, your franchisees will be genuinely moved that you cared enough to take the time to hear how they are doing. You’ll find yourself in the unique position to offer advice and to ensure that they receive the additional training and support that they will need to move forward in times of uncertainty. And most importantly, you’ll come away with a SWOT analysis that will help you construct your 2021 budget based on systemic needs – while your COO/VP of ops/FBCs will have the basis for coaching your franchisees in those situational instances where there is a financial or performance delta to be bridged. A THE AUTHOR Keith Gerson, CFE, is the president of franchise operations at FranConnect. He brings 40-plus years of executive- level expertise as a passionate and driven franchisor and franchisee with a proven track-record in building rapid- growth and highly profitable franchise organizations “Technology fees have become the standard for ensuring a franchising organization can keep up with a rapidly evolving competitive environment” Another effective way to capture these invaluable insights can be achieved by using third-party companies, such as Franchise Business Review and Franchise Research Institute, which are able to turn the voice of the franchisees into actionable data. Again, the key is to get objective feedback on the health of your franchise culture. By doing so, you’ll be able to determine if your franchisees are recommending your franchise, and if not, why not? It will also provide you with feedback on the performance of your franchise support managers, which resources and services you provide are most and least valued by your franchisees, measure franchisee intentions to sell their business so the impact can be minimized, and much more. 2 Engage your franchisees in budgeting for success with a playbook In surveys we conducted with franchisors in early 2020, 80 per cent identified that their biggest challenge in helping their franchisees improve their performance was a lack of business and/or marketing plans. At the end of the day, franchise recruiting, satisfaction, and retention all are contingent upon franchisee profitability. With so much uncertainty in the days WORDS BY KEITH GERSON, CFE